A Touch of Steel—Bonus scene

Jordan meets Sara for the first time

Los Santos, on a hot summer’s day

Jordan Steele was bored. He sauntered down the dusty main street of Los Santos, kicking stray pebbles as he walked. The muggy afternoon didn’t help his mood. Sweat trickled down his back under his shirt. He could have stayed indoors and spared himself this heat, but anything was better than remaining cooped up with the very pleasant, and utterly forgettable, Mayor Tillerman and his wife. Jordan had completed his purchase of the rail expansion rights from Los Santos to the interior region and was due to leave on the morning train back to the City.

He should have left his vest behind at the hotel, Jordan thought as he pocketed his gold cufflinks and rolled up his shirtsleeves. In the City, he dressed more formally, but things were more relaxed in this small town at the end of the rail line.

He continued down the street, the small shops that lined the street giving way to vacant lots and small fields. As he reached the outskirts, buildings stood further apart, and people became scarce. Jordan spied a small wooded area across a nearby field with a trail leading into it. The path would be shaded, promising a small respite from the hot sun. 

Focused only on reaching the trailhead, Jordan stepped over the “Peligro! No trespassing” sign bolted to a chain between two posts and trod onto the long grass. Thirty yards from the road, the grass gave way to a small circular clearing. The vegetation was scorched, the faint smell of charcoal wafting in the air. 

“Get down! Muévete!” Piercing cries broke through the silence. Jordan turned, his eyes widening at the sight of two women racing toward him, their arms waving frantically through the air. Like him, they wore trousers and shirts. He stared, riveted by the dark-haired girl who led the charge. Her eyes were wide, fury and fear etched on her face as she moved her legs quickly. Her smaller companion ran one step behind, her blond hair streaming in the wind.

Ten feet away from him, the women showed no signs of slowing down. Jordan stepped to the side to let them pass, but the duo adjusted course and with one joint, hard shove, tackled him to the ground. They lay in a heap, all three momentarily stunned by the hard impact. The woman lying on his chest was a beauty, Jordan thought. His eyes traced her flawless features. He wanted to know if her skin was as soft as it seemed. His fingers itched to glide through the silky brown hair that was pulled back into a loose braid. She was soft and lush, and a hint of lavender tickled his nose.

Jordan found his voice. “Who are you?”

Furious eyes flashed at him. “Pendejo. Are you trying to get killed? The blast is coming.” She covered her head with her hand and tensed her body. Beside them, her companion curled herself into a fetal position.

“Blast?” Jordan wrapped his arms around the woman and rolled with her to reverse their positions. As best he could, he covered the two women with his body and waited. In the panicked silence, Jordan heard the faint ticking of his fob watch marking the long seconds as they passed. He was almost nose-to-nose with his attractive stranger. She stared back at him, panting with fear and exertion. The moment lengthened, and she blinked in confusion.

All three flinched when a loud pop whipped through the air. Jordan waited for the inevitable wave of scorching fire and sharp debris to rain down on them. Smoke filled the air, but the wind pushed it harmlessly passed them. Jordan felt both women deflate. The danger had passed. He rolled to the side and stood.

“Sara, it did not work!” The blond woman pushed herself off the ground and dusted herself off. “Another failure. I must be missing something.”

“We will try again, Ana.” Sara ignored Jordan’s proffered hand as she stood. “You, sir—”

“Jordan Steele, at your service.” He bestowed his most charming grin on Sara. She narrowed her eyes.

“—are the most irresponsible idiot! You blithely ignored the sign and trespassed. You almost stepped over a live explosive device. You are fortunate that the experiment failed.”

A chill swept through him as he looked at Sara in disbelief. “You, both of you, thought your bomb would detonate and possibly kill me … and yet, you ran towards it? Are you two daft?”

Ana piped up beside them, “Leave me out of this. I told her it was a stupid idea, but she took off running after muttering something about reckless tourists. I have to go back to my research.” Ana nodded at Jordan with a faint smile. “It was interesting to meet you. I am glad you did not die a gruesome death, nor lose several limbs. That would have been incredibly inconvenient for all of us.” She quickly turned and walked toward the small building at the edge of the field. 

“Why would you be playing with explosives in the first place, Miss …?” Jordan focused on Sara again. Around them, the air was charged. 

Sara lifted her chin and crossed her arms. “Ramirez. And this is our work. Our laboratory is nearby, and we use this field for our experiments. Since this is the edge of town, we rarely have stray tourists looking to inadvertently kill themselves.” Jordan smiled, bemused. She was magnificent, confident in her bearing, despite the obvious setback to her work. She had risked her life to save a stranger.  He didn’t know what to think. 

“Well, let me make it up to you. Let me take you to dinner.” Jordan smiled again. This time, he noted with satisfaction, Sara blinked and a faint flush crept over her cheeks. 

“I almost killed you. Why would you want to have dinner with me?” She sounded confused, but her lips curved upward.

“Perhaps I enjoy living dangerously. And you, Miss Ramirez, are very dangerous. Spending time with you will be anything but boring.”

“I am a scientist. I have been assured that boring is an accurate description of my conversation. So, if you will excuse me, I need to get back to work. I wish you a pleasant stay in Los Santos.” 

“I guarantee that it will be.” At that pronouncement, Sara eyed Jordan warily and turned away.

Jordan’s gaze followed Sara’s retreating form. He felt more alive than he had in a long while. He wanted more of her: he wanted to listen to her voice; he wanted to crush her lips under his, and run his hands all over her sumptuous body. He wanted…everything. Whether or not she knew it, she would be his. This seduction would take time and planning. Jordan couldn’t wait to get started.

The morning train to the City left without him.

*Get to know Sara’s friend, Ana Villanueva, in Book 2, A Touch of Brass (read the excerpt)! Coming December 19 on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited! Pre-order today!

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